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We gave thanks and feasted yesterday, as per tradition… Thanksgiving has quietly become one of my favorite holidays– all casual comfort and nourishment, without fuss or pretention. Even the kids had a hand in preparations.

The menu was a customary potluck smorgasbord: Husband served his homemade pickles on an impressive and colorful relish tray. Firstborn whipped up a gluten-free apple cobbler. Assigned the veggie, I brought bacon-roasted Brussel sprouts, Husband snuck in a green-bean casserole (sans mushrooms) in protest. Nana made her famous sweet-potato-pie and jello salad, Auntie Heidi made the “Mimi rolls” (as we fondly call pickle-stuffed ham & cream-cheese rollups), and Grandma Tina made pumpkin muffins and mashed potatoes. Papa made the gravy, obvi, plus two kinds of stuffing, and my brother-in-law smoked the bird in his Traeger.

Center Sister stuffed the turkey piñata

Not to be outdone, my much older sister (who hosted next door) got up early the day prior to pick apples from her orchard and juice them all for homemade cider, then baked two pumpkin pies from scratch and homemade yeast rolls. There’s no evidence she churned the butter herself, but she did use eggs gathered from her backyard flock of laying hens… she’s been formally crowned Queen of Thanksgiving and shall henceforth be referred to as Her Royal Highness, Betty Crocker.

It was more relaxed an occasion than last year, when we traveled to Oregon from Montana, but not without somber recollection of loved ones missing from round the family table. Never in my youth did I imagine both sides of my fractured family could gather and celebrate together; I’m grateful for all the love and kumbaya my kids receive from all branches and offshoots of their colorful family tree.

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